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I did 14-day detox recently led by a wonderful yoga teacher at my studio. It was not a juice cleanse, it was 5 days vegan, 5 days raw, and 4 days blended food, meaning cold raw “soups.”
Because I’m not picky at all (I'm a carnivore who loves to eat vegan and raw), I thought this would be fairly easy.
But actually being on a “diet” and needing to stick to it while having restrictions is a whole other story.
I decided to do this cleanse to shed off those holiday cookies, but also to learn more about my eating habits and connect to my core within my yoga practice.
I’ve tried juice cleanses and they don’t work for me personally, I need to eat – so this was the perfect option!
I never thought that I’d learn so much from this detox, things that have enlightened me and will stay with me for the rest of my life. Just to name a few…
1. Eat breakfast.
It's the most important meal of the day! (How many times have you heard that?) Starting my day with a satisfying high-energy breakfast (versus no breakfast) made all the difference. Every morning I made myself a rich smoothie (banana, apple, almond milk, cinnamon, dates, spinach, vitamineral greens), packed it up and went to work. I didn’t have the urge to snack before lunch, or even need a cup of coffee!
2. Eat slowly.
This has always been a struggle for me, I tend to eat REALLY fast. Although I’m a health conscious person and pretty aware of my body, if something tastes really good or I’m simply starving – I scarf it down!
During this detox I knew that what I could eat was limited, so I started eating more slowly to savor it. I found that my hunger decreased entirely, I was snacking less and discovering flavors that I didn’t notice before (even in a simple cucumber). Savoring every bite helps your mind connect with your body to understand hunger and satiety (fullness).
3. Eat fresh.
During the raw phase especially, I was buying bulk produce every single day at the local co-op market. Before, I would buy precut and washed produce because it’s convenient for when I work – I still think this is perfectly fine, but I really noticed a difference in my skin, teeth and body overall when buying fresh. (Still needing to be prepared for work, I cut what I need for the next day and put it in an airtight container in my fridge, ready for the next morning.)
4. Be patient.
Your body isn’t going to change in 2 weeks (for the long run, at least). Your habitual cravings aren’t going to go away quickly, or gracefully. Be patient with yourself and know that every day you try an out-of-the-box recipe or make a minor diet change, you’re giving yourself exactly what you need and doing the best you can.
When we transitioned from vegan to raw, I had a VERY difficult time. All I wanted was a warm, cooked meal. And I slipped up! On day 8, I was so sick of raw food that I went and got a vegetable/seed patty from a local café.
On day 11, I was disgusted with my raw “energy soup” and went to get a vegan sandwich. At the time I was feeling really guilty, but that’s what my body needed! Don’t deprive yourself – be patient and listen to your body.
5. Enjoy what you eat.
Don’t eat something that makes you gag! (For me, that’s dulse seaweed… I can’t do it.) I know it’s nutritious, so one morning I put it in my smoothie, I could not even drink my smoothie and ended up breaking my raw diet to go get that vegan sandwich because I was starving, pissed off, and over it! I got back on track the next day, but realized that enjoying what you eat is the most important factor in any diet. Again, no one should feel deprived – but inspired and energized!
6. Stay busy.
Sweat for at least 30 minutes a day! This helped me tremendously. Go to the gym, go for a run, go to a yoga class! Staying active keeps your mind calm and motivated. Get those endorphins flowing! And the less excuses you make, the better you’ll feel about yourself at the end of the night.
7. Treat yourself.
I have the biggest sweet tooth in the world, I blame it on the 7 years I worked at bakeries and cafes. We weren’t supposed to have caffeine, alcohol or sweets (besides dates & stevia) during this cleanse. Alcohol? Fine. Caffeine? Mild headaches in the beginning but overall ok for me. Chocolate? Noooo way.
I went to Whole Foods and treated myself to vegan chocolate in the beginning, then raw chocolate, and desperately tried cutting back during the blended portion but sneaked a little piece in there. And I’m not going to lie – the little piece I’m talking about was a freshly baked brown sugar cookie with chocolate cream, so I technically broke my cleanse at day 13.
But you know what? I still feel great! After that slip up I felt guilty for about 2 hours, but then continued with my prepared raw and blended meals. I didn’t have anxiety about deprivation throughout this, and now that this detox is over, I know that I just need a little piece of dessert to satisfy me!
8. Pamper yourself.
You deserve to feel fabulous. Take a bath, make a homemade facemask, schedule a massage. Do something every week that makes you feel good. Oh, and go buy a dry brush! I had never used one before this detox, it’s kind of uncomfortable in the beginning, but now I love it! (It removes dead skin and toxins.)
9. Have a support system.
If you’re trying to change your diet or any aspect of your life, having a support system of family, friends, co-workers – is key. During this detox, we were set up with a Google group that we continually wrote e-mails back and fourth in.
We exchanged if we were feeling good, bad, very bad, great, new recipes we’ve found, words of encouragement, you name it! Getting these e-mails every day is probably the only thing that kept me going.
10. Do what YOU want to do.
Do things that you’ve always wanted to do, but never started. During this detox I got a hula-hoop AND signed up for poi dancing lessons. (Two things I’ve been wanting to get into since I was a freshman in college.) Wake up early and take that morning hike or yoga class, even if it’s by yourself! Do whatever serves you for the better – don’t make excuses – and honor yourself.
The detox is over, and I’ve missed my grilled chicken and sushi (honestly). Before the cleanse I thought, maybe I’ll be a vegan after this… Now that it’s over, I know that diet is not for me. And that’s totally fine – eating should be enjoyable for everyone!
From this detox I’ve taken these 10 realizations and the practice of mindful eating with me. I feel fantastic physically and mentally, even if I slipped up with a buttery cookie on day 13. If you ever have the opportunity to do a detox like this, journal what you learn along the way! What makes you happy, what makes you really pissed off, what works for your body and doesn’t. I can promise you’ll learn valuable life lessons.